Having a travel routine might not sound adventurous, but it proves invaluable in sustaining my long-term travels.
ve always loved to travel, but only in the last few years have I been able to structure my life in a way that allows so much of it. I decided to prioritize travel and committed to longer-length journeys.
My partner and I visited Thailand a few years ago, which was my first “big trip.” We had planned nearly everything—from hotels to main stops—but while we allowed for variable change, we couldn’t have anticipated COVID happening. Despite the global pandemic cutting our trip short, the months we spent in Thailand were spectacular, largely due to our planning. Since then, I’ve continued traveling this way, planning my excursions and accommodations in advance, leaving time on the schedule for last-minute itinerary additions.
Why I’m Grateful for My Routine Life
At home, my life follows a pattern. I wake up at roughly the same time every day, do yoga or go to the gym, work on my writing, read, drink coffee, and so on. I usually go for a walk at around the same time every day. At around 6 or 7 in the evening, I begin the nighttime routine of winding and cooling down with some reading, skincare rituals, perhaps a bit of journaling, and the usual true crime YouTube binge.
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I am grateful to have a schedule that allows for constant flexibility, which lets me schedule the days how I want, but this is the key: the days should have a schedule because that is how I get things done.
When I travel solo, my routine is much of the same. I don’t drink or party and prefer to wake up early. I head out for the day, indulging in a big breakfast with a side of reading. I hit up a few key spots during the day, or I have some type of activity booked, and then I usually like to be back home inside the hotel after 5 p.m. to rest, shower, and settle in for the night.
I’ve traveled alone for a long time and have always enjoyed my allegiance to having a structure. It helps keep the day in order–when you work remotely or freelance, you have to be responsible for your own schedule, and having a routine is key.
Am I a Bad Traveler?
I live online, and I follow a lot of other traveling folks. I watch these people moving around without rhyme or reason or planning. One girl I follow recently wrote an ode to this type of travel. She went to India with no reservations and made her way through the country with a couple of friends for five months, figuring it out every day as she went along. My heart swelled reading her story and following her adventure. I wanted to see myself like that, barefoot and carefree in the Himalayas, wading in the Ganges with no clue where to lay my head at night, sometimes sleeping on floors, sometimes simply not sleeping.
I loved reading her stories but could not picture myself alongside her, living the same type of life. Though my heart beat faster, imagining what could be, the anxiety rock that lives deep in my stomach started aching at the thought of having no plan whatsoever.
I’d always chastised group tours and trips, claiming they left no space for adventure–but wasn’t I doing the same thing, albeit solo? With this new revelation, I was distraught.
Am I a bad traveler? I wondered. In watching the glamourized, seemingly whimsical lifestyles of other travel bloggers, I had somehow become convinced that the way I was traveling was not good enough and, at worst, boring.
But I love my routine, and if that makes me boring, so be it. It works for me.
The Benefits of Having a Routine While Traveling
As much as I love my routine, sometimes, you must let a few strings loose and go with the flow. But because of my routine, I can travel longer and not get overwhelmed. Having a plan is what keeps my traveling lifestyle sustainable.
A routine can be extremely comforting and beneficial for those traveling alone. Consider making your days more regular on your next vacation because you may get more out of them than you think. I believe that routine is the key to comfort, and I have a few things that I do that are exclusive to my travel routines, such as taking a walk around the neighborhood as soon as I check in or changing up my yoga practice to accommodate morning activities or time zone differences. Routine allows me to maximize my days abroad while leaving some room for the moments of spontaneity that inevitably crop up when traveling solo.
Plan for Change
I’m aware that I am someone who relies, perhaps too heavily, on having complete control. But as those of us who travel know, things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes, you have to let a few strings loose and go with the flow. I love my routine, but my routine always leaves some empty space for surprises. At the end of the day, it is precisely because of my routine that I can travel for longer periods of time and not get overwhelmed, and what keeps my traveling lifestyle and goals sustainable. Maybe next time I’ll release control a little bit, but I don’t ever see myself diving all the way in with no plans. Instead, I’ll schedule in some time for flexibility.